By HTP Editorial
Physicians Against the Trafficking of Humans (PATH) is an online resource to help those in the medical profession recognize and respond effectively to victims of sex trafficking. PATH is an initiative of the American Medical Women’s Association (AMWA).
Kanani Titchen, who created the program and serves as its Executive Director, is a doctor and an Adolescent Medicine Fellow at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, Bronx, New York. While a resident in medical school, Titchen began to suspect that some of her young female patients were being trafficked. Telltale signs included specific kinds of tattoos, a delay in seeking appropriate medical help when needed, and male “companions” who appeared to keep way too close a watch over everything the female patient said or did.
Titchen began creating a series of videos in which she relates her own experiences and helps train other doctors to distinguish and effectively intervene on behalf of trafficked patients. The PATH website includes some sobering statistics, interviews with survivors, techniques on how to safely respond to suspected cases, links to other resources, and educational materials designed to spark conversations and spread information.
In her TEDXGeorgeSchool talk, Titchen says that one of the challenges facing an effective response to human trafficking is the fact that it keeps morphing into something new, something tougher to distinguish. The sex trafficking of young girls is happening right here on our own doorstep and we might not see it. Victims could be our classmates, our friends’ children, our next door neighbors. We can no longer imagine that this exploitation occurs far away in some other country, or affects some “underworld” that does not intersect with our own.
Titchen’s advocacy for victims and survivors is a vibrant example of the kind of vigilance and activism necessary to defeat the commercial sexual exploitation of children, and a good paradigm for how different kinds of groups can and must work in tandem to address the crisis. As part of her medical residency, Titchen trained with Girls Education and Mentoring Services (GEMS) and with Sanctuary for Families in fellowship. These two New York City based organizations have proved invaluable to her work as a doctor. They have provided safe housing, legal assistance and other social services that support the rescue and recovery of trafficked survivors. In addition, Titchen has written articles for medical journals, she has been proactive in physician education, including a Global Adolescent Health elective in her new position at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx (with CUNY School of Medicine and Albert Einstein College of Medicine), she has taken the cause to both the United Nations and the US Department of Health and Human Services.
In September, Titchen will return to Nepal (where she completed part of her residency) to establish a women’s and children’s wellness clinic in partnership with Nepal Medical College, as well as contribute to several other initiatives there, including House With Heart, which supports victims of trafficking and those at risk of marginalization.
Click here to visit PATH for tutorial videos and other resources
Click here to watch Titchen’s TEDx Talk How to spot human trafficking
Click here to learn more about House With Heart in Nepal
Click here to learn more about Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (GEMS)
Click here to learn more about Sanctuary for Families